SMC’s ‘buffer zone’ turns a dud as 90% new trees are dead

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Srinagar, Dec 06: Months after the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claimed to have secured the ‘buffer zone’ around Achin landfill site with 5,000 trees, 90 per cent of the trees have died.
As part of creating Green Spaces in Srinagar, the buffer zone is a Rs 1.33-crore project funded under the centrally-sponsored Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
While 10,000 trees are supposed to be planted at the landfill site, the SMC claimed in June that 5,000 trees of different varieties were already planted at the site “to mitigate the stink emanating from the dumping site”, an official said.
Citing inappropriate timing to pant as a major reason behind the death of the trees, insiders in the SMC revealed to The Kashmir Monitor that only 10 per cent of the trees have survived.
“The trees were planted in April, which was not the favourable time for them to grow. Ideally, they should have been planted in February or early March,” an insider said.
For the meagre survival rate of the trees, the SMC, the insider said, has withheld the payment to the contractor.
“One of the agreement clauses lays down that payment will be made only when the trees survive,” said the insider.
The SMC has asked the contractor to plant new trees.
“The contractor has given an undertaking that he will plant the trees in the upcoming spring.”
The insider said the SMC has also sought technical assistance from the Forest Department over the matter, as per the insider.
Commissioner SMC, Riyaz Ahmad Wani cited “biological reasons” for death of the trees.
While pits of 1 cubic meter volume were ideally to be dug up for the trees, Wani said the contractor may not have followed the manual.
“Moreover, the stock of the trees may not have been procured as per the laid down specifications,” added.
“Only native tree species were to be planted as the conditions here do not suit exotic ones. This can be another reason (for the poor survival rate of the trees).”
Saying that the project was meant to be completed in two years, Wani said, “We will take all the precautions while replanting the trees.”
The SMC’s over 600-Kanal garbage dumping site at Achan has been at the centre-stage of people’s anger against the corporation, with the stink emanating from the site causing inconvenience to the residents of the nearby localities.

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